Our Life's Values
"Community is the spirit, the guiding light, whereby people come together to fulfill a purpose, to help others fulfill their purpose, and to take care of one another."
The Sangha and Community of Jizo-An Zen Community was founded in 1985, and the "Community for Spirituality and Contemplation" was established in the Pinelands of Southern NJ, Shamong NJ in the year 2000.
Our founder Seijaku Roshi envisioned a community born of love and benevolent service, people engaged in contemplative prayer, meditation (Shikantaza), silence and reflection. A community that offers hospitality, compassion and benevolent service, receiving all guests as friends, and sharing their gifts and talents for the good of all. Inspiring us to bear witness to the possibility of creating an Enlightened Society — one of nonviolence, justice, and peace, honoring the teachings of the Buddhadharma, Mystical Torah, The Rule of St. Benedict, and the Gospels, and responding to the needs of the less fortunate and everyday men and women in society.
As Abbot, Seijaku Roshi applied his gifts as an insightful teacher and masterful speaker, instilling a particular spirit, "The Spirit of Community, our Guiding Light" which has come to characterize our Center.
The monastic Order of The Great Lights and The Zen Society were established in 1985. In 1990 a small zendo was created in Riverton NJ and eventually moved to Cinnaminson NJ for the next 10 years. In 2000 Jizo-an Monastery, previously known as Pine Wind Zen Community - The Community for Spirituality & Contemplation was founded.
With his modest funds, Abbot Seijaku Roshi purchased property on McKendimen Road in Shamong, NJ. This, with much work, became the monastery: the house providing living space for the first monks in the surrounding Pinelands. From its earliest days, a fidelity to regular meditation and community prayer, a love for reflective silence, the reception of guests, and an educational program and offerings — all gave clear witness that ancient monastic priorities had taken root in the new location.
At the same time, the new community was constantly challenged by its founder to stay open to change, to be aware of the signs of the times, and to strive for growth in understanding the Ancient Teachings, how they apply to modern times, and to monastic values.
A departure from strict monastic customs reflects a dialog between modern and monastic life. At Pine Wind, the monks did not always live together and their means of personal income was to come from outside the monastery. Whether ordained or non-ordained, they would relate to one another on the basis of equality (Lay or Monastic Ordained Monks). Thus, the monastery in Shamong NJ was well-founded in traditional monastic values, but shaped by a contemporary consciousness. This is the legacy that continues to inform the Jizo-an Zen Community beyond Roshi's passing, in its current incarnation and new location in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Meditation & Contemplative Prayer
Regular Meditation, Personal and Community Prayer is at the center of the Community. Regular times of communal and personal meditation and prayer set the basic rhythm and tone of life at and away from Jizo-An Community Zendo.
Whether in the Zendo or in their homes, the day begins with brothers and sisters collecting themselves for a reflective Morning Meditation and Prayer. This is followed by an extended time throughout the day for personal reflection, living mindfully, and offering benevolent service, whether at home, at work, or at the Zendo. Shared meditation, prayer, and educational opportunities take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd weeks of every month calling brothers and sisters to an awareness of the spirit in which they have chosen to live, and welcoming friends and guests in celebration of that spirit.
In a society plagued by hyper-individualism, consumerism, fear, and wealth-inequality, the discipline of monastic-life calls the community to recognize all persons, and all creation, as the free gift of Buddha-Nature, God, The Universe, which impels us to realize a life marked by "interconnectedness and interdependence".
In meditation and prayer, the Sangha hears the summons to go beyond themselves and to be present to all humankind, to all sentient beings, recognizing their hungers, their brokenness, their joys, and their hopes as their own. Because The Spirit of Community, calls the brothers and sisters to openness and sharing, it is always a celebration with others: a celebration of good gifts, and of the possibility and promise which live at the heart of each human life.
Work (Samu) - Caretakers of The Gifts of Creation
In their work, as in their meditation and prayer, the monks of Jizo-an care for the life and the grounds around the zendo, reflecting the community's environmental concern, keeping the brothers and sisters close to its rhythms. In addition, all brothers and sisters share alike in the common tasks of maintaining strict rules of cleanliness and order inside the community's building, as one of the responsibilities of their monastic life.
All Who Seek Refuge - No Strangers Here
Creating a safe and welcoming place for others has become a central experience in the life of Jizo-an Zen Community, as important as our monastic life and Zen training. This way of being-for-others as a community reflects monastic hospitality and finds a rich variety of expressions. The brothers and sisters hope that this quality of openness and welcome will mark their relationships with one another. This overflows in welcoming those who visit the Meditation Hall. The celebrations of the community are open to all.
The Meditation Hall or Jizo-an Zendo, and the peaceful surroundings offer space for personal prayer, silence, and reflection. Accommodations for guests — in the tradition of Japanese Zen — provide an opportunity for sharing in the brothers' and sisters' life more deeply, either as individuals or as groups. This welcoming of others is an expression of the community's desire to live a life that is open, grateful, and shared.
All For One, One For All
The experience which underlies and calls forth the brothers' and sisters' life of meditation, prayer, work, hospitality, and out-reach, is that of "Community".
At Jizo-An Zendo, "Community is The Spirit, The Guiding Light," and is the basic choice to offer oneself to others in joyful service, in a common vision and hope, and in abiding faithfulness. Freedom and spontaneity, self-discipline, self-expression, and generous service to others, joy and celebration, mutuality and commitment: these values are the foundation for the quality of community which the brothers and sisters seek. Simplicity, reverence, and honesty inform the relationships of the brothers and sisters with one another, with friends and guests, and with all of creation.
Thus, for over 40 years the monastic tradition providing the context and inspiration for their growth and life together, and in communion with people of faith, and others, the Monks of Jizo-an Zen Community continue to search together for the deeper meaning of the Ancient Teachings and Masters. In faithful commitment to one another, and in care and concern for the world around them, we say to all our friends and guests today and yesterday and, tomorrow - ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL.